June 9, 2008
TALLINN -- A Russian military transport plane violated Estonia's airspace on its way to the Russian Baltic Sea enclave of Kaliningrad, the Estonian military said Sunday.
In a statement, the Estonian armed forces said that the AN-72 transport plane entered Estonia's skies at 9:03 p.m. Sunday, before leaving a minute later.
The plane was flying above neutral waters before straying into Estonian airspace over the island of Vaindloo, the military said.
The AN-72, which can carry 10 tons of cargo, also could be used for intelligence purposes, said the statement.
Estonia, the northernmost of the three Baltic states, was ruled by the Soviet Union until the collapse of the communist bloc in 1991, and along with its neighbors Latvia and Lithuania joined NATO and the European Union in 2004.
All three countries have regularly complained of airspace violations by Russian military and civilian aircraft, which have to cross close to their skies to reach Kaliningrad.
Russia, however, rarely concedes its planes have violated the three countries' airspace.